Thursday, March 6, 2014

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Mar 6)

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This weekly Adirondack outdoor conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

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SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates active, new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS: Daytime temperatures will be warm this weekend to nearer normal temperatures in the upper 20s and 30s, but expect the possibility of scattered snow showers with light accumulation. There is already more than a foot of snow everywhere in the Adirondacks.  Wear a cold weather outer shell and bring winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

** WINTER TRAIL CONDITIONS: Trails are generally compacted snow over an ice base and a few inches of the fresh snow we received this week on top. Beware of frozen washouts and other icy and rough areas on trails.  Skis or snowshoes are recommended.

** CURRENT SNOW COVER: There is 12-15 inches of snow on the ground everywhere, with more at higher elevations and in the woods. There is about 15-20 inches in the southwestern Adirondacks, with as much as two feet west of Route 30 and in the snow pocket near Northville.  In the High Peaks, there is about three feet of snow at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Backcountry skiing is good and skis or snowshoes are recommended everywhere and one or the other are required in the High Peaks Wilderness.

** LONG RANGE FORECAST: The long range forecast has our region through Tuesday, with a chance of isolated scattered snow showers into the middle of next week. Forecasts beyond that not definitive enough to offer here.

** BLOWDOWN: Winter storms and recent high winds have left blowdown on trails, especially secondary, lesser used trails.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Adirondack weather can change dramatically in a short time. Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region. NWS Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3,000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** FIRE DANGER LOW: The fire danger in the Adirondack region is LOW. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished.

** RIVERS RUNNING BELOW NORMAL, BUT RISING: Rivers are currently running below normal for this time of year. Stream crossings are generally frozen, but will be thawing through the weekend. Expect some rise in rivers and streams by Sunday as temperatures reach into the 30s this weekend.

** ICE ON WATERS: We were well into the double digits below zero Wednesday night and lake ice will remain in good shape despite warming this weekend. However, lakes are rutted and rough under new snow from recent thaws and refreezes. Always check the depth of ice before and during crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always use extreme caution on ice over water. NOTE: Ice shanties must be removed by March 15.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All the region’s downhill ski areas will be open this weekend with plenty of fresh snow this week. Gore Mountain and Whiteface are both reporting about 85% of their terrain open. Big Tupper, Mt. Pisgah, and Hickory will all be open for what could be some of the best downhill skiing conditions this year (outside of the occasional powder opportunities we’ve had). Very good conditions are being reported by skiers around the region. Big Tupper will have Chair 3 open to the summit trails.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: All cross country areas are open with at least a 6-10 inch base, and a few inches of fresh snow on top. Pick a spot, excellent conditions are being reported around the Adirondack region – this could be the uniformly best conditions of the year.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: All back-country ski routes are reported in very good conditions with an 8-12 inch base and a few inches on top everywhere. Conditions remain good at higher elevations, with about three feet of snow at Lake Colden and all trails are skiable, although the Marcy Truck Trail will be the better route to Marcy Dam this weekend, especially with increased visitation there this weekend. The blowdown below Indian Falls has been cleared by Ron Konowitz, Katie Tyler, and Colden Interior Caretaker Sean Platt. Skiers and snowshoers on trails and roadways used by snowmobiles should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. UPDATE 3/7: Phil Brown reports the summit of Marcy is icy. See his report from Friday here.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Trail conditions improved this week and everywhere conditions are good to very good and groomers have been out all week. However, be aware of washed-out areas that have refrozen, the occasional icy turn, and rough re-frozen slush ruts on lakes buried under new snow and exposed in wind-blown areas. Anywhere you haven’t been is the best bet for this weekend. The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail is open for its whole length (DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them). Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season and no gas is available in and around the Cranberry Lake area. Do not ride on closed trails.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY

These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation roads, trails and facilities around the Adirondacks.

** indicates new or revised items for this week.

HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** Snowshoes or Skis Required: Snowshoes or skis are required the High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoes or skis eases travel through snow, avoids injury and prevents “post-holing”, which ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse.

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen, but use caution around inlets and outlets. There is three feet of snow at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations.

** Flowed Lands and River Crossings: Flowed Lands and river crossings are frozen.

Ausable Lakes: The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited.

SOUTHERN-CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail: The trail is now open for its whole length. DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

Camp Santanoni: The final of three Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends is scheduled for March 15 and 16. Skiers and snowshoers will be able access and learn about the historic buildings and warm up in the Artist Cabin with a fire and hot beverages. Find out more here.

Former Finch Lands – Essex Chain Lakes Tract: The Town of Newcomb is plowing Goodnow Flow Road. The public can park in the designated plowed area along the Goodnow Flow Road just before the Chain Lakes Road entrance – this is the road used in the summer to access the Hudson River at the Polaris or Iron Bridge. The public can access the Essex Chain Lakes Tract to ski, snowshoe or otherwise traverse the roadways and the lands. Interim winter public access will be limited this year as no plowed parking areas have been designated on the Essex Tract itself. The plowed parking area on the Goodnow Flow Road is used by the Gooley and Polaris Club members to park vehicles and snowmobile trailers – it is likely to be crowded on weekends. The Deer Pond and Chain Lakes Road gates have been closed and locked. The roads beyond are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Members of the Gooley and Polaris Clubs will be able to use snowmobiles on the roadways to get to and from their camps.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

Cranberry Lake: Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season. The restaurant, tavern, and hotel lodging are closed, and there is no gas available on the premises. There is no access to Cranberry Lake from the Lodge property. At present, there is no gas available in and around the Cranberry Lake area.

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General warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Additional detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation information can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC Trails Supporter Patch is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

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